My final destination in Myanmar was Maungmagan Beach. Located eight miles from Dawei on the Andaman coast, Maungmagan Beach stretches for 7 miles along a beautiful bay enclosed by green hills. My guesthouse was located directly on the beach near a small fishing village and a strip of simple restaurants serving fresh seafood. The peaceful setting was perfect for my final days in Myanmar.
The beach was crowded with locals enjoying their weekend. The beachgoers were wading into the water fully clothed, so I felt self-conscious in my swim trunks, even though I didn’t have the impression that my dress was being frowned upon. Instead of swimming, the bathers were sticking close to the shore and floating on inner tubes. On shore people were going for strolls, posing for photos, and playing games of soccer and chinlone. Also known as caneball, chinlone is the traditional, national sport of Myanmar. The game is similar to hacky-sack, but the ball is made from handwoven rattan and sounds like a basket when hit. After being invited to play, I kicked the ball around with a couple of guys and repeatedly apologized for being the one that let the ball fall into the sand. The game is fun, but I stopped playing after only an hour because the rattan ball was pricking my bare feet.
My final day in Myanmar was blissfully spent swimming in the Andaman Sea, drinking Myanmar Beer, and eating shrimp seasoned with garlic and pepper sauce. The Maungmagan Beach sunset was stunning, a brilliant end to my last day in Myanmar.
Early the next morning, I departed Dawei on a minibus. After a six hour drive on a bumpy, dirt road, I exited Myanmar at Htee Kee and entered Thailand at Ban Nam Pu Ron. Thailand’s smooth, paved road left no doubt that I was in a different country. It felt like I was in a different world, and I knew that my upcoming Thailand experience would be markedly different than the three weeks I experienced in Myanmar.